Lessons Learned From Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone (& Why You Should Take Your Pilates Certification Exam)

I just returned from a week of learning and testing at the STOTT PILATES® headquarters in Toronto, Canada. I was being tested on my knowledge of the Cadillac, Chair, and Barrels in order to increase my Instructor Trainer credential to include teaching instructors on these apparatus. It was a ton of work to prepare both physically and mentally, but now that it’s all said and done, I gained so much from the process.Fit 4 Real Comfort Zone And Pilates Certification Exam

When I push myself to complete a challenge I step outside of my comfort zone. I have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, with being judged, or with possible failure. Fear of the unknown is really powerful and can make anyone consider giving up on their dreams. But I swear that every time I’ve poured my blood, sweat, and tears into my dreams, just like Bruce Springsteen, I come out a winner…“Talk about a dream, try to make it real, wake up in the night, the fears so real…badlands you got live it everyday…”

Every system of Pilates instructor certification is different. But for those of you who choose a method like STOTT PILATES® that requires you to complete a practical and written examination, it isn’t uncommon for trained instructors to never take their exam. About 30% of the trained STOTT PILATES® instructors take their exams. I’m sure there are many reasons for this. But if one of the biggest reasons (usually the one that creates lots of excuses) is fear, then I want to help you! Read More


What Nancy Hodari Can Teach You About Owning a Successful Pilates Studio.

Fit4Real_NanciHodariNancy Hodari, founder of Equilibrium Studio in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, has been an inspiring entrepreneur since I met her in 2000. I had registered for my Pilates certification courses and came to her looking for a studio internship. Immediately, I knew she was extremely smart and knowledgeable about business, a dedicated and clear leader, and a dynamic force in the world I wanted so much to be part of.

Fast forward 12 years. Over the past few summers I’ve traveled back to Michigan to guest teach STOTT PILATES workshops. Nancy is still an inspiration. It’s amazing to see how her studio has evolved over the last 15 years! I recently sat down with her to ask her a few questions about studio ownership and the challenges of being an entrepreneur. Read More

How I Created My Dream Job

MyDreamJobMany Pilates instructors dream of owning their own studio. The dream is pretty common. However, looking back over the last 9 years of having my business, I realize that I had no idea what challenges were in store. I had no idea how much I would need to grow. I had no idea how hard and rewarding this path would be. And there’s no doubt I have made mistakes. But the skills I have gained are immense.

I have always been obsessed with physicality, dance, and design. After college I was still pursuing dance while I found myself taking on marketing and design projects for small movement related businesses just for fun. I created studio logos, websites, flyers. I even began to get hired for fitness photo shoots because I understood movement. My best friend and I started a design business specifically for Pilates studio owners and health clubs.

While working professionally as a designer and dancing, I realized I wanted to train to become a Pilates instructor. I researched all the training options and decided on STOTT PILATES. I relocated and enrolled in training courses.

My mom is a communications expert and I realized that I too enjoyed reading books about interpersonal communication and teaching philosophy (My favorite by Parker Palmer The Courage to Teach). I wanted to better know how to communicate so understanding is achieved so I read and read.

While teaching as an apprentice instructor, I learned from my Pilates mentor not just how to teach but the business of running a studio. I also watched her work really incredibly hard to keep her studio running. I helped her open a second location and watched her struggle to make it work.

As I continued gaining experience as an apprentice, I worked with another mentor while she opened a studio and began publishing several Pilates books. I help her with designing the book, photography, and she even asked me to write a chapter. Read More

Want to Power Up Your Sessions? Refine Your Cueing.

IncreaseChallengeRefineCueingClients often tell me my sessions are really challenging. Yesterday I taught a reformer class all essential reformer. The basics, nothing fancy. After class, I asked if the students had enjoyed what I perceived to be my more gentle class. One of the students said, “It was really hard.” I was shocked because I had tried to tone down the challenge a bit. The student added, “You correct us so much we can’t get away with cheating.” Ah haaa!

People talk about Joseph Pilates as a demanding and deeply committed teacher. So don’t ignore your passion for form and eye for detail. Instead, embrace it!

Of course if you are a brand new teacher, just get people safely moving and get the words out. But if you’ve been teaching for a while and want to challenge your clients within the essential level exercises, I can help. Read More

What I’ve Learned From Mentorship

WhatLearnedThroughMentorshipI’ve been fortunate to have had several amazing mentors so far in my career as a Pilates teacher. I can honestly tell you that I believe mentorship has made the most significant difference in my professional development as a teacher. If you’re a Pilates instructor who’s looking to improve their teaching, I encourage you to find a seasoned mentor.

Through a friend, I was introduced to my first Pilates mentor, Aimee McDonald-Anderson (she’s in the photo to the right and still teaching in Michigan so look her up if you’re in the Midwest). I had just begun my STOTT PILATES® teacher training. She welcomed me into her studio where I practice taught, observed her sessions, and met with her on a weekly basis. During our weekly private sessions I honed my physical practice and asked tons of questions to clarify issues that had come up during my practice teaching. Even after 14 years of mentorship from Aimee, she continues to be a tremendous support.

Through the years I had other wonderful mentors who I greatly admire. Each mentor offered a different perspective on teaching but all have helped me to grow as an instructor. In looking back, here are the three biggest insights I learned from my mentors. Read More